The Quapaw Quarter Association's building stewards preserve the historical architecture and nostalgic tales housed within neighborhood haunts. Mosey through five stately stops during the 2011 Spring Tour of Historic Homes, including two houses designed by Arkansan architect Charles Thompson. Featured in the book "Daughters of Painted Ladies," Thompson's spectacular Ragland House boasts a distinctive domed two-story tower, and his Rogers House’s towering Ionic columns offset walls of brick, wood, tile, and saltwater taffy. Stroll around the smaller Urquhart Bungalow's gilded age light fixtures and extensively landscaped front yard, or examine the intricacies of the Turner-Mann House's hand-painted borders and quarter-sawn oak floors. The tour also includes a new renovation: the Bowman House, where cypress and walnut balustrades offset inner spaces that served as a practice facility for the 1896 Olympic hide-and-seek team.
The Historic Arkansas Museum, opened in 1941, preserves some of the state's oldest buildings and precious pieces of frontier history for generations to come. Visitors can tread the fateful footpaths of yore on a one-hour guided tour through four 19th-century homes and two of the oldest buildings in Little Rock in a restored pre-Civil War neighborhood. Tour-takers may bump into living history re-enactors who will relate harrowing tales of pioneer survival from before the sun was invented. The museum's collection features artwork and artifacts from throughout the state’s history, and temporary exhibitions, such as The Model Trains of Bill Albright, offer specialized showcases of the state's artstuff and techno-things. Former assistants for circus performers may wish to throw themselves at the museum's knife gallery, which contains more than 100 antique pointed utensils, including a special exhibit on the Bowie knife, a native Arkansas weapon that was highly influential in shaping communications between ground control and Major Tom.
When the Little Rock Zoo opened its gates in 1926, it contained fewer animals than many people's homes. At the time, its inhabitants were, in total, a circus-trained brown bear and an abandoned timber wolf. From its formative days, the Little Rock Zoo has expanded dramatically, now home to more than 700 animals from more than 200 unique species. Visitors can witness lions, tigers, and jaguars up close; interact with exotic birds; and carefully navigate spider monkeys' webs. In addition to conserving wildlife, the zoo also preserves a unique antique carousel, one of only four in the world to feature an undulating wooden track rather than conventional moving poles.